Your first meeting with a Houston criminal defense attorney is one of the most important appointments you will have in the course of your case. It’s not uncommon to be nervous about your situation and uncertain what to expect from an initial consultation.
On This Page
Here are some tips on what will happen at your first meeting with criminal attorney and what you can do to make it as productive as possible.
What To Expect From Your Houston Criminal Defense Attorney
Before you meet with an attorney, it’s important to understand that her job is to act as your advocate in the criminal justice system. To be effective at this, it’s important for her to get to know you and to fully understand your situation.
To achieve this, your lawyer will need to ask questions — a LOT of questions.
You will be asked to provide your full name and contact information, your education and employment history, family history, previous criminal record, and other background information.
You will also be asked a lot of questions pertaining to your current situation, such as:
- What are the exact charges or allegations against you?
- What did you see/hear/do in the situation?
- Who else was involved?
- What did other say or do in the situation?
- If you were arrested, where did it happen?
- How did the arresting officers approach you?
- What exactly did the police officer do and say before, during and after the arrest?
The list of questions may seem to go on forever, but this information is absolutely critical to your defense. It will help your criminal defense attorney identify potential witnesses, alibis, investigation leads and more.
What You’ll Need
Before your first meeting, your attorney may give you a questionnaire or a list of documents to bring. If not, here is an idea of the paperwork you should have ready for that first meeting:
- All documentation related to your arrest.
- Documents from the court showing the exact charges and next court dates.
- Bail paperwork.
- A list of possible witnesses and their contact information.
- Evidence such as video, phone messages, photos, or documents that could be helpful.
In addition to these, it’s also important to come armed with questions of your own. During your meeting, it’s common to be overwhelmed. This can cause you to forget questions you want to ask of your lawyer. Writing your questions down beforehand can be very helpful, such as:
- What type of criminal cases have you handled?
- What is your success rate?
- How long might each step of my case take?
- What is the best case scenario in my circumstances? What is the worst case scenario?
- What are your initial thought on defense strategy for my case?
- What potential problems to you see for my case?
- What is your involvement level at each stage, including arraignment, filing motions, motions hearings, and trial?
- Who else from the firm will be involved in my case and can I meet them?
- What are your fees and payment options?
There are many different types of criminal cases, and choosing an attorney who is experienced in the type of charge you are facing is a critical part of a successful defense. It’s also important to choose an attorney who will maintain a level of contact about your case that you are comfortable with, as not all attorneys handle their clients in the same way.
Personality is another key factor that should be considered in a first meeting. Do you feel comfortable with the attorney you are meeting with? If so, you’re more likely to have a good working relationship throughout the case.
Whether you’ve been charged with misdemeanor shoplifting or felony assault, criminal charges can be very scary and can have a huge impact on the rest of your life. It’s important to have an attorney you trust completely to handle your case in the best way possible.
Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Defense
Hiring a lawyer is a stressful and consequential decision. A few things to keep in mind when choosing which one to hire are:
• The cheapest choice usually isn’t the best option. Less expensive lawyers usually work in high volume. This often means that you will speak to the lawyer’s assistant instead of directly to the lawyer.
• An attorney’s experience matters. Have they worked with your kind of case before? Who trained them?
• Not all attorneys have tried a lot of cases in front of juries. If they have, ask them what their success rate is.
Not only is it legal to videotape an encounter with law enforcement officials, it is very smart to do so. Videos can be powerful evidence in your favor.
Officers are also not allowed to seize your phone, demand to see footage, or delete anything off your phone.
An officer is required to read your Miranda Rights before interrogating a suspect. But this rule is not always as simple as TV shows make it appear.
Two factors determine when your rights must be read — custody and interrogation. If your rights were read to you and you are taken into custody and interrogated, then a prosecutor can use anything you say in their case against you. If you were arrested and questioned without your rights being read, then the prosecutor generally can’t use what you said against you. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that your case will be dismissed. You could still be found guilty of the crime in question.
Get Help from an Experienced Houston Criminal Defense Attorney
Lisa Shapiro Strauss Attorney at Law is a Houston criminal defense lawyer with the experience and dedication necessary to protect your rights. For more than 20 years, Lisa has successfully represented the legal rights of individuals facing assault, theft and other criminal charges. She takes pride in devoting significant time, personnel and resources to each case to ensure that every client receives the highest standard of service.
As a former prosecutor, Lisa Shapiro Strauss knows the criminal justice system and how to achieve the best possible outcome for her clients. If you have been charged with a crime in the Houston area, contact Lisa Shapiro Strauss at 713-449-9922 to schedule a free consultation.